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Match Review: Eagles Bow Out of Singapore Cup After Defeat to Jaguars

Photo credit: Abdul Rahman

Geylang International gave their all in the final Singapore Cup group fixture against Tanjong Pagar United on Sunday (November 6), but were undone by the woodwork on three occasions and fell to a 2-1 loss.

As a result, the Eagles crashed out of the domestic cup competition with no point to show for - becoming the only team in the tournament with this unwanted record.

As both Geylang International and Tanjong Pagar United stood a mathematical chance of pipping second-placed Hougang United and qualifying for the semi-finals as Group B runners-up, they were eager to establish an early lead and created chances in rapid succession during the opening period.

Zaiful Nizam was the busier of the two keepers and he was called into action in the first few minutes to repel attempts from Blake Ricciuto and Reo Nishigushi.

At the other end of the pitch, the Eagles carved their first goal-scoring opportunity as early as the 2nd minute when Vincent Bezecourt's long-range shot went straight into the arms of Jaguars goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad.

Five minutes later, Fareez Farhan was put through on goal on the left by Bezecourt. But the former was unlucky to have his shot deflect off the base of the post.

It was Bezecourt's turn to be down with luck as his 30th-minute strike flashed past a hapless Zharfan, only to hit the upright.

But Geylang International were not to be denied their goal in the 41st minute when Hazzuwan Halim received a long ball from Faizal Roslan, sped away from the opposing defence, and slotted the ball into the far corner of the goal.

The Ultras Eagles cheering on the away stand, thought that that moment would be the start of a four-goal hunt, which was the least their beloved club needed to accomplish to progress to the next stage.

Any such hopes were quickly dashed as the Jaguars hit back with an equaliser a minute later through the predatory instinct of Khairul Amri, who found himself unmarked at the far post.

As was the pattern in the previous game against the Cheetahs, the Eagles subsequently saw their initial lead reversed when Nishigushi finished clinically 11 minutes after the restart.

Geylang International who were missing Sime Zuzul through an ankle injury, lacked the cutting edge up front for the remainder of the match as plenty of crosses put in by Tajeli Salamat and Khairul Hairie found no receiver in the box.

Eagles boss Noor Ali then gave a resigned smile during stoppage time after witnessing Rio Sakuma's fierce shot from outside the box thundered against the top of the crossbar.

While the former Singaporean giants' cup run came to a disappointing end, the players can take pride from their sterling league performance, which they recently achieved a fourth-placed finish.

Geylang International - as the third-best local side in the league - still stand a chance of playing in Asia next season so long as Tampines Rovers and Albirex Niigata win their respective semi-finals against Balestier Khalsa and Hougang United.

Man of the match: Khairul Hairie - Since coming on as a half-time substitute in place of Kieran Teo, the 22-year-old left winger had been a livewire on his flank. Not only Khairul managed to whip in numerous crosses, which none of his teammates were able to convert, but he was also close to snatching a draw near the end of the match.

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